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Spaceport Sweden


Personal spaceflight: a spaceport in Sweden. 

Virgin Galactic appoints first space travel agents in Scandinavia.

Today in Gothenburg Virgin Galactic announced the names of the five travel companies who will train to become “Accredited Space Agents” (ASAs)– the first agents in the region allowed to reserve seats aboard Virgin Galactic’s suborbital space flights.
(20th of March 2009)

The new ASAs are:

Hannibal & Marco Polo A/S, Aarhus, Denmark
Area Travel Agency, Helsinki, Finland
Ice Hotel Travel, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
The Search, Malmö, Sweden
Upplevelseakuten AB, Stockholm, Sweden

Johanna Bergstrom-Roos, information manager of Spaceport Sweden said: ’We have been looking forward to the announcement of Virgin’s winning ASAs. They will now become part of a truly unique and exciting new sector within both space and tourism. Spaceport Sweden will provide infrastructure, services and adventures for space tourism. Having ASAs in Scandinavia means greater local expertise in this field and will add a valuable extra dimension to the existing strong relationship between Spaceport Sweden and Virgin Galactic.”

Virgin Galactic began their quest for Scandinavian travel agents January 2009. After submitting a comprehensive application all of the travel agents were shortlisted and then interviewed by Virgin Galactic.
Carolyn Wincer, Head of Astronaut Sales for Virgin Galactic. said: “We were extremely impressed with the professionalism and innovation shown by travel agencies in the Scandinavian region. Travel agents play an important part in Virgin Galactic’s distribution process. A good travel agent is a trusted advisor on travel experiences to their clients so when we decided to take our experience to this market, we sought only the best travel agents to sell our suborbital spaceflights.”

The new Accredited Space Agents will be ready to start taking Virgin Galactic enquiries and bookings as soon as their training is completed. The appointed ASAs will be skilled up in general spaceflight technology, g-forces, medical issues and the entire Virgin Galactic experience so they are well prepared to provide expert advice to prospective Virgin Galactic customers. They will also get to meet staff from Spaceport Sweden who will be there to talk about plans for launching Virgin Galactic flights near Kiruna in Northern Sweden.

Carolyn Wincer said: “The five agencies we have chosen know how deliver outstanding levels of service when selling unique travel experiences and we have every confidence they will take very good care of our future astronauts. Now it is up to us to ensure they have all the knowledge and resources they need to do this as selling space travel is definitely more complex than selling a safari or a cruise!” 
Accredited Space Agent Contacts
Hannibal & Marco Polo, Aarhus, Denmark – Anders Martin Larsen, aml@myplanet.com  
Area Travel Agency, Helsinki, Finland – Teppo Viiperi, teppo.viiperi@area.fi  
Ice Hotel Travel, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden – Roland Sand, roland@icehotel.com  
The Search, Malmö, Sweden – Andreas Axelson, andreas@thesearch.se  
Upplevelseakuten, Stockholm, Sweden – Lasse Schmidt, lasse@upplevelsepresent.se  

Read more about the organizations involved at:



Virgin Galactic offers Nordic Travel Agents to become their Accredited Space Agent
(19th of January 2009)

Today, at a press conference at Spaceport Sweden in Kiruna, Virgin Galactic announced its plans to select a small number of Scandinavia’s elite travel professionals to act as its representatives across the region and to lead the way in enabling aspiring astronauts to realise their dreams of experiencing space.

Virgin Galactic extended an open invitation to the travel industry to apply for the exclusive and coveted Accredited Space Agent status. It plans to announce the names of those that have been successful during “TUR 2009” in Gothenburg in March 09.

Stephen Attenborough, Virgin Galactic’s Commercial director said: ‘We are looking for individuals, teams or companies that have a proven track record as leaders in providing high-end, unique travel experiences and who can convince us that they are as passionate as we are about making commercial space travel a safe, affordable and viable new sector of the travel industry.

We are particularly interested to hear from those who can show they have an engrained culture of outstanding customer service that is both personalized and discrete and who pride themselves on the highest levels of product knowledge. By selecting the very best in the field we can be confident that our future Scandinavian astronauts will be getting the best possible care and attention when booking their spaceflights.

Our new Scandinavian Accredited Space Agents will be joining an exclusive group of around 90 hand picked representatives in 33 countries around the world’

Olle Norberg, chairman of Spaceport Sweden said: ’We are looking forward to the announcement in March this year when the winning Accredited Space Agents will become part of a truly unique and exciting new sector within both space and tourism. Spaceport Sweden will provide infrastructure, services and adventures for space tourism. Having Accredited Space Agents in Scandinavia means greater local expertise in this field and will add a valuable extra dimension to the existing strong relationship between Spaceport Sweden and Virgin Galactic.”

Richard Branson to Stockholm.

Sir Richard Branson is a guest of honour when the leading business-magazine of Sweden –Affärsvärlden – is promoting “The leader of the year” of Sweden. Branson will deliver a speech about leadership. The winner will receive the prize from the hand of Branson at a dinner at Grand Hotel in Stockholm 4th of November. Richard Branson is the owner of Virgin Galactic – the company that wants to create space tourism.

“Leader of the year” is the most famous prize of management and leadership in Sweden and it has been handed out for twentyfive years. The publisher of the magazine Affärsvärlden says: “Richard Branson is one of the great entrepreneurs of our time. It is very exiting that he will come here and share his thoughts with us.”

And Branson himself says that: “I look forward to coming to Stockholm to honour this prize. Good leadership is important if you want to turn visions and strategies into successful companies.”

(September 30th, 2008)

Dr. Olle Norberg held a presentation at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC ) in Glasgow, Scotland, talking about “issues to consider in the space tourism era - how Spaceport Sweden plans for suborbital flights”

The paper had two main themes; an outline of the available infrastructure and services of Spaceport Sweden and a discussion of a possible way to obtain a permit to fly personal spaceflight vehicles in Sweden – in the absence of a European legal framework for such flights.

In Europe in general and in Sweden in particular there is no corresponding legal framework for commercial space transportation that also covers personal spaceflight. Such a comprehensive framework will probably not be in place within the next five years.

Therefore a permit to fly Virgin Galactic’s vehicle or similar vehicles from Spaceport Sweden in the near term must be based on an approach different from that of the U.S.

The legal framework for personal flights from Sweden is actually one of our most important questions for the moment. A license to perform such flights in the near term needs to be based on an interim approach. A way to obtain a permit to fly in Sweden may be to apply under two different legal regimes – that of Sweden’s Space Law and that of the legal framework for aviation.

In January 2007 Spaceport Sweden signed an agreement with Virgin Galactic to perform an assessment study on performing flights of SpaceShipTwo in Kiruna. This study, covering everything from operational to legal aspects, is now coming to an end. It has shown that there are no major obstacles to overcome before commercial suborbital flights with either winged or vertical launch vehicles can commence.

The study established that the required infrastructure already exists, and Spaceport Sweden is indeed open for business for any personal spaceflight operator, either for permanent or temporary operations. 

Spaceport Sweden could class SpaceShipTwo as sounding rocket

An investigation into the national legislative needs of Spaceport Sweden has concluded that Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo (SS2) could be treated like a sounding rocket.
(July 10, 2008. From a blog called Hyperbola at the web-site Flightglobal.)

Spaceport Sweden is waiting to hear from its government's Ministry of Commerce as to whether existing domestic aviation and sounding rocket law are sufficient to allow Virgin Galactic to operate. By the year end the Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) expects to have a decision from the Ministry, whose government faces an election within the next two years.

The SSC is hoping the Ministry will agree that existing law will be acceptable as new laws represent a tough challenge when the government itself could change in 2010, putting an in-service date early in the next decade for SS2 at risk.

The SSC concluded that the intra-atmospheric portion of the flight could be dealt with under aviation rules and the "space" part could use sounding rocket law passed in 1964, which predates the country's 1982 space law that incorporates the Outer Space Treaty but deliberately does not include sounding rockets because of the 1964 act.

The SSC work examined the status of space law in Europe and found that there was nothing comparable with the US Federal Aviation Administration's office of commercial space transportation and that Europe's European Aviation Safety Agency only focuses on aviation. The SSC is not confident a European effort to create an EASA office of commercial space transportation could be created in time for its plans for Spaceport Sweden.

(The text is somewhat shortened here, read it all at www.flightglobal.com if you can find the blog named Hyperbola!) 

(1th of april, 2008)

Senior representatives from Spaceport Sweden and Virgin Galactic today presented their latest progress towards commercial spaceflights for private space tourists. The press conference took place at SSC's Esrange Space Center.

The press conference was opened by Dr. Olle Norberg, the initiator and chairman of Spaceport Sweden. After welcoming everyone, he handed over to Mr. Sven Grahn, senior advisor at Swedish Space Corporation, who presented his work related to the establishment of Spaceport Sweden.

Sven Grahn, senior adviser at Swedish Space Corporation:

- We have studied very practical matters such as, for example, the suitability of the available infrastructure in Kiruna, the weather conditions, the possible flight profile for Virgin Galactic’s spaceship when operating in Kiruna, any additional infrastructure that may be needed, the regulatory framework in Sweden and Europe for personal spaceflight, and a host of other matters, said Mr. Sven Grahn.

- We have not encountered any major obstacles along the way and don’t expect to do so either. Our next step will be to keep working on regulatory matters, and further defining the way we take care of space travellers and any additional infrastructure that may be needed, said Mr. Sven Grahn.

Will Whitehorn, President of Virgin Galactic:

Will Whitehorn, President of Virgin Galactic, talked about the challenge and necessity of designing totally new and energy efficient techniques to access space, which will help to transform the applications of space at a time when civilisation needs all the technological help it can get. He also explained Virgin Galactic's vision of not only offering spaceflights to the general public but also of developing a launch vehicle that could be part of a longer term development programme involving space science, payload deployment and potentially other applications yet to be defined.

A significant factor of working together with Spaceport Sweden is that, in common with Spaceport America in New Mexico which will be our primary operating base, they can, as and when we are able to operate outside the US, offer much more that just a spaceport for space tourism, said Mr. Will Whitehorn. I’m not just thinking about the unique adventures one can enjoy in the Kiruna area, but also the long experience that Spaceport Sweden has in space science with sounding rockets, (i.e. suborbital flight performed by the Swedish Space Corporation from Esrange Space Center). They have been in this business since 1966 and have the experience, the knowledge and the infrastructure needed to launch and communicate with experiments performed in space in real time. This really matches our vision of making further use of the new technology developed by Burt Rutan at Scaled Composites in California.

Stephen Attenborough, Commercial Director of Virgin Galactic:

Stephen Attenborough, Commercial Director of Virgin Galactic, talked about the size and potential of the space tourism market which has justified VG’s faith and investment in developing the air and space vehicles and establishing the worlds first commercial spaceline. VG’s customer numbers continue to grow strongly, now around 250 firm reservations and well over $30 million dollars in deposits, with another 85000 people having registered an interest in flying with VG in the future. The customers come from a broad range of backgrounds, they cover a wide age group, and hail from 30 countries. 80 of them have started their preparations for the space flight by climbing into a centrifuge and have effectively “gone to space”. They experienced 3,5 G’s on the way up and 6 G’s on the way down.

- For Virgin Galactic this was an essential exercise, demonstrating our commitment to passenger safety and contributing to our business plan, says Mr. Stephen Attenborough. Only two customers were unable to undertake the training, and three delayed due to treatable medical conditions. In other words, we achieved a 93% success rate, which was 10-15% higher than our original business plan projections. Overall, we proved conclusively that ordinary people can go to space, and that actually, almost of us are made of the right stuff.

A future space tourist talks about his visit to northern Sweden:

Invited media spoke to a number of Virgin Galactic´s future Astronauts making a special visit to Kiruna.. Their programme was devised by the ICEHOTEL, the partner in Spaceport Sweden responsible for arranging all the unique adventures that come with a visit in the land of the northern lights and the midnight sun.

- The stay here in Sweden has been fantastic so far, says Mr. Jon Goodwin, a Virgin Galactic future Astronaut. We slept in the ICEHOTEL the first night, in warm sleeping bags and in beds covered with reindeer skins. This afternoon we are looking forward to witnessing a rocket launch from Esrange Space Center and then we will continue to search for the famous northern lights together with scientists at the Institute of Space Physics. Tomorrow we’re taking a helicopter tour to the highest mountain top in Sweden (Kebnekaise) and will end the day by visiting a Sami family and taking in some of their culture and history. We will also have time for a dog sledge ride and a scooter safari to a wilderness camp where dinner will be prepared over an open fire. I must say that this is a remarkable place, even without a space trip, said Mr. Goodwin. 
Read more about the organizations involved on:





Spaceport Sweden represents the combined expertise of several Kiruna–based Swedish companies whose successful development has earned them international respect; Swedish Space Corporation, ICEHOTEL, LFV Group and Kiruna’s business-development company Progressum. Their reputation for service consistently attracts attention with regards to aerospace operations, testing and tourism. Their next challenge is to make Spaceport Sweden Europe’s first and most obvious place for personal suborbital spaceflight.

Spaceport Sweden is based in Kiruna, a modern city with excellent communications and extensive infrastructure in the unique northern Scandinavian wilderness. Winter time, the spaceflights will go right through the Aurora (the northern lights) and summer time they will graze the sparkling midnight sun!

Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline, has chosen Spaceport Sweden as one of its operational partners. Virgin Galactic will give ordinary people the opportunity to become non-professional astronauts. The company will own and operate its privately built spaceships, SpaceShipTwo. 

Development programme for Kiruna Space City until the year 2020.
(March 26, 2008) (from the website of SSC)

A unique collaboration initiates a long-term effort with the aim of multiplying the number employed within the space sector in Kiruna.

Kiruna Municipality, the business development company Progressum, Luleå University of Technology, the Swedish Space Corporation, the Swedish Institute of Space Physics and the space secondary school Rymdgymnasiet have together devised a long-term development programme for Kiruna Space City. Initiatives will be taken in many different areas and a Space Council will be established in Kiruna. The aim is to involve increasing numbers of players in the task of developing Kiruna Space City.

“Kiruna Space City gives Sweden and Europe fantastic opportunities to achieve something really major,” says Kiruna’s mayor Kenneth Stålnacke. “There are already unique possibilities here for business, research and education in the space sector to develop further. With Spaceport Sweden here in Kiruna, we here in Europe have an opportunity to create something new and exciting round space tourism. Together we will further develop Space Campus Kiruna into an innovative environment and an international meeting place for research, education and business development.”

“Instead of working individually as if on our own separate islands, we are now building bridges over to each other,” says Lars Eliasson, director of the Swedish Institute of Space Physics. “It is very positive that we are all trying together to benefit from the favourable conditions we have in Kiruna. There are many exciting projects where we need to collaborate in order to succeed.”

For further information please contact:
Olle Norberg, Head of Esrange Space Center
Phone: +46 70-587 20 42
E-mail: olle.norberg@esrange.ssc.se

Bengt Jaegnes, CEO Preogressum
Phone: +46 70 2883204
E-mail: bj@progressum.se

(27 March, 2008. From the website of SSC)

Since the official inauguration of Spaceport Sweden in January 2007, many steps towards personal suborbital spaceflight from Kiruna have been taken. To be precise 26 work packages, regarding everything from accommodation to space operations and astronauts’ timetables, have successfully been accomplished during the last 14 months. The Spaceport Sweden team will present the conclusions of the work packages so far and also the way forward.

Virgin Galactic has also been intensely involved in the above mentioned work packages, and has simultaneously focused on several other current topics. Will Whitehorn, president of Virgin Galactic will be providing latest information on the recently unveiled designs of the prototype commercial space ship and carrier aircraft which are now close to completion at Scaled Composites in Mojave California. He will also be sharing the vision for Virgin Galactic including the likely diversification of the business into the areas of space science and payload deployment as well as continuing work towards flights from Spaceport Sweden.

Stephen Attenborough, Commercial Director of Virgin Galactic, will then talk about the continuing growth of its space tourism business and the ground breaking work the company has undertaken in assessing health and fitness requirements for its sub-orbital flights.

We will also have representatives from Virgin Galactic´s founder Astronauts talking about their dreams and experiences so far.

Date: 1 April 2008
Time: 10:30-11:30
Place: Esrange Space Center, Kiruna

Updated 02/02/2012
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